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Full text of "My Country And My People"


From the Chinese point of view, pacifism is not "noble"; it
is simply "good" because it is common sense. If this earthly
life is all the life we can have, we must try to live in peace if we
want to live happily. From this point of view, the self-assertion
and the restlessness of the spirit of the West are signs of its
youthful rawness. The Chinese, steeped in his Oriental philo-
sophy, can see that that rawness will gradually wear off at
Europe's coining of age. For, strange as it may seem, out of
the extremely shrewd philosophy of Taoism there always
emerges the word "tolerance." Tolerance has been, I think,
the greatest quality of Chinese culture, and tolerance will also
become the greatest quality of modern culture, when that
culture matures. To learn tolerance, one needs a little sorrow
and a little cynicism of the Taoist type. True cynics are often
the kindest people, for they see the hollowness of life, and from
the realization of that hollowness is generated a kind of cosmic

Pacifism, too, is a matter of high human understanding. If
man could learn to be a little more cynical, he would also be
less inclined toward warfare. That is perhaps why all in-
telligent men are cowards. The Chinese are the world's worst
fighters because they are an intelligent race, backed and
nurtured by Taoistic cynicism and the Confucian emphasis
on harmony as the ideal of life. They do not fight because they
are the most calculating and self-interested of peoples. An
average Chinese child knows what the European grey-haired
statesmen do not know, that by fighting one gets killed or
maimed, whether it be an individual or a nation. Chinese
parties to a dispute are the easiest to bring to their senses.
That calculating philosophy teaches them to be slow to quarrel
and quick to patch up. That mellow, old roguish philosophy
which teaches the Chinese patience and passive resistance in
times of trouble, also warns them against momentary pride
and assertion at the moment of success. The Chinese counsel
for moderation says: "When fortune comes, do not enjoy all of
it; when advantage comes, do not take all of it." To be over-
assertive and to take full advantage of one's position is called
"showing too much edge," a mark of vulgarity and an omen
of downfall. Whereas the English believe in "not striking a